Prior to having kids my son and his wife adopted a rescue dog. This was the classic post-wedding, pre-children step, and Maggie initially seemed like the perfect pet. She was a four-year-old mutt, on the larger but not too big size, very mellow and affectionate. Until she went outside.
I don’t know if dogs can be schizophrenic, but believe me, if anecdotal reporting is acceptable, they can. Indoors, Maggie was sweet and loving; never chewing, not barking inappropriately. Overall, a real love bug. Outdoors? A holy terror.
We discovered this while dog-sitting for ten days. Maggie in the house? Heaven. Outside? Hell. The minute the leash was on, sidewalk accessed, that sweet dog transformed into an aggressive, single minded hyper-hunter. Any dead rat would not be left behind. Even three blocks past, Maggie wanted back to that rat. She’d give a chilling look, like, how dare you deprive me of my black soul and try to return to the matted mess.
The rats were the least of it. The minute Maggie sighted another mongrel, Maggie was in full attack mode. After the first couple of days of caring for her, my pre-walk, anxiety was so high, I begged my husband to take over the outdoor duties. Thankfully, he kindly agreed.
Unfortunately, Maggie’s early demise came when she dug a hole under a fence and ran into the street. It was, of course, a catastrophic and heartbreaking loss.
Like all challenging and distinct personalities, her short time in our lives was surprisingly impactful. The passing of a pet is always tough, but Maggie’s angel/demon nature made her that more unforgettable.
Some time after her death, my son, not normally sentimental, brought home a stuffed dog that was a near perfect likeness to Maggie. A bit smaller, but the same color, the same sweet countenance.
By then there was a two-year-old in the house, and though my grandson had a vague memory of the dog, it was the stuffed version that became ‘Maggie’ to him and the rest of the family. ‘Maggie’ would surprise visitors to the house by her presence in unexpected locations. A jokester, that dog. (Son). She would also, despite constant reminders that she should not be ridden, be climbed upon, with the inevitable consequent toppling. And she was always hugged, often accompanied with the comment by one of the grandchildren in an offhand fashion, “She’s just like that Maggie that was run over by a car.”
We’ll likely remember Maggie even more than we might have because, now, she is always with us. Which led me to an idea; what if there could be a stuffed version of me that would help my family cherish me fully after I depart this earthly plane?
You know how they make dolls in the likeness of famous or make-believe historical or cartoon movie characters? Why couldn’t a Nana doll be devised, hopefully with a pleasant, non-wrinkled version of my face, in much more stylish clothes than I ever wore, and a timeless, impossible to destroy body made of cloth and unbulky stuffing?
There could even be a button that, when pushed, would say things like, “Nana always loves you, no matter what.” Or “Did you wash your hands after you went potty?” There are endless iterations. Endless.
I could sit in the corner, my doll version, or lie in bed next to a person who was really missing me. I’m not sure who that would be, but I’d always be available. On holidays, I could be propped up in a chair. You get the picture.
Often, I have ideas that I think are brilliant and prescient and no one agrees with me. In fact, they look at me like I’m chasing a dead rat on the street. Sometimes, decades later, those ideas come to fruition from the brain of someone much better qualified and situated to make things happen. For example, when I was an elementary teacher many decades ago, I was always fantasizing about writing a TV series about the craziness that goes on in schools. And now Abbott Elementary is a successful show. That’s just one example of how I could have been a contender had I the skills, dedication, and discipline. Maybe.
But this Nana doll thing? I swear at some point the concept will happen. And I likely won’t be around to see it. Still, like that original Maggie whose presence is still felt, I’d like to be remembered for contribution to the inception of one more idea that will make money for someone else.
Meanwhile, picture sitting me on the couch, the pleasant smile on my face, a loving presence that never, ever goes away.
Ah. Already I see the first glitch.